tv PBS News Hour PBS May 28, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. president obama traveled to the gulf coast today for a first- hand look at the damage from the blown-out oil well. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we update the effort to plug the leak, and explore the growing environmental catastrophe, while tom bearden reports on the fears of louisiana fishermen and others dependent on the gulf for their livelihood. >> reporter: with the shrimping grounds closed, the last catch is coming ashore in barataria, louisiana, and they might have no idea when they can go back out again. >> lehrer: then, gwen ifill reports on california's multi- million dollar contest over the republican nomination for governor. >> brown: judy woodruff reports on the house vote to repeal
"don't ask, don't tell," the controversial policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. >> when i served in baghdad, my team did not care whether a fellow soldier was straight or gay. why on earth would we tell over 13,500 able-bodied americans that their services are not needed? >> lehrer: and we close with the analysis of mark shields and david brooks. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: b.p. crews labored for a third day in the latest assault on that gushing oil well 50 miles off the louisiana coast. onshore, president obama got to see the damage for himself. ray suarez begins our coverage. >> suarez: it was the president's second trip to the region since the spill began five weeks ago. while he was stepping off air force one in new orleans, out in the gulf, b.p. pumped more drilling fluid, called mud, into the blown wellhead
overnight. it sent brown clouds blossoming a mile below the surface. coast guard admiral thad allen said there were signs that what's called a "top kill" procedure has had some success. >> they've been able to push the hydrocarbons of the oil down with the mud. the real challenge is to put enough mud into the well to keep the pressure where they can put a cement plug over the top. >> suarez: as robot subs labored on the sea floor, b.p. officials said the procedure was moving according to plan, despite an 18-hour delay yesterday. c.e.o. tony hayward urged patience. >> i think it's probably at least another 48 hours away before we could have confidence that we've succeeded. we've said all along that we rated this at 60% to 70%. that has not changed. >> suarez: hayward said engineers also fired debris into the wellhead at one point, including bits of shredded tires and golf balls. the idea was to give a new layer
of mud something to stick to. >> that's a combination of materials of various sizes to attempt to create a bridging material. and, indeed, it is-- the non- technical term for it is "junk," the "junk shot." >> suarez: but later, there was word the operation had been halted again in the wee hours of the morning. >> suarez: everyone from b.p. to federal officials to gulf coast residents hoped "top kill" and "junk shot" would become synonyms for success in stopping the worst oil spill in u.s. history. but out on the water, and along the shoreline, the oil kept spreading, along with demands for tougher federal action. yesterday, at the white house, president obama acknowledged the
concern, and said he takes ultimate responsibility. today, he stopped on fourchon beach in louisiana, now closed because of the spill. >> you might want to stop right around here-- you can see these little balls. these are the tar balls that they're talking about. >> suarez: later, the president received a formal briefing from admiral allen. then, flanked by gulf coast governors and other officials, told reporters in grand isle, louisiana, he wanted to triple federal manpower in places where the oil is on or very near the shore. >> this increase will allow us to further intensify this already-historic response, contain and remove oil more quickly, and help minimize the time that any oil comes into contact with our coastline. that means deploying more boom, cleaning more beaches, performing more monitoring of wildlife and impact to this ecosystem. >> suarez: mr. obama stressed again that b.p. is ultimately responsible for all cleanup costs.
the oil company said the tab to date is $930 million and growing. >> brown: and while the president visited the gulf today, newshour correspondent tom bearden was talking with local residents and business- people about their plight, and the government's response so far. tom filed this report from the town of barataria, louisiana. >> reporter: this is probably the last boatload of shrimp that will come out of barataria bay for the forseeable future. oil invaded the bay last weekend, and started drifting northward. authorities closed the last stretch of the fishing ground this morning donovan hinton is a charter boat deckhand. he says the charter fishing season is pretty much ruined. >> probably at least 30 trips canceled. >> reporter: some of the people we talked to were pleased that president obama was visiting the gulf today, but hinton wonders if the president knows what people here are facing. >> we could offer him a boat
ride, and he needs to take some time and go in a boat with some local fishermen and see what is really happening down here. >> reporter: charter captain jim meynard doesn't think shutting down exploration drilling in the gulf is the answer. >> i think it is crazy. i think the rigs can be safe, but they need someone to watch them. you need that oil. i can't say anything against anyone that is out there. they are out there trying to make a living, just like we are. so let it go, put more restraints on them. >> reporter: michael roberts and tracy kuhns' fishing boat is tied up at the dock behind their house, and it isn't going anywhere soon either. michael is filling his time transporting materials for a fishing camp renovation project. he signed up with b.p. to work on the cleanup, but the company has never called. the spill dominates conversation
with neighbors, like david fricke, who is semi-retired. like everybody else, he's angry. >> it is people like me that bought this place and moved down here. i changed my lifestyle, have something that i look forward to all my life. now, i cant go fishing where i want to, so i am going to sue >> reporter: we asked roberts and kuhns what they would like to say to the president. >> stop acting like you work for b.p. oil. the response is pitiful. i have been to meetings with the coast guard. everyone is downplaying the oil spill. i have been to three different meetings with the coast guard where they have said it is just a sheen on the water. a sheen on the water violates the clean water act of the united states. how come when b.p. puts a sheen on the water, it is okay. i was told by a commander in the coast guard at a meeting in dulac. so, that commander answers to a
general, that general answers to someone, and it goes up the chain to president obama. reign in your federal agencies and have them start doing their jobs down here in south louisiana. we are being destroyed down here. >> the difference between the federal response after the storm, after katrina, and now is president obama has sent agency people down to the community level, and they have had meetings and listening sessions and they are taking notes. the problem is they are listening, and then there is no response. it is like they are protecting b.p. instead of us. their job is to protect their citizens. >> reporter: it's not just the people in barataria who are upset. people in three other states are also affected. over in picayune, mississippi, about an hour to the east, tony carbone is also wondering what the future holds. >> i am very scared, very scared.
seafood has been our life. we are in our third generation. i think i have salt water in my blood. people ask why dont i leave this house, and i say it is because my gills would dry up. >> reporter: carbone's dockside restaurant is all about seafood. shrimp, on ice... live crawfish, carefully sorted... and oysters in the deep fryer. but no louisiana blue crab. like everybody else around here, carbone is worried about whether he'll be able to buy enough seafood to stay in business. and he worries that louisiana once again won't get the attention he thinks it deserves. >> we are such a big powerful nation. we feel like a third world country.
we are slower to respond to southern louisiana than we are to tragedies around the world. >> reporter: carbone's disappointed with the federal response to the disaster, and he'd really like president obama to provide more frequent updates to people in the coastal states. >> he is making a second visit. we welcome him. we are glad to see him again. it would have been nice if he gave us a daily briefing and told us what was going on behind the scenes. he was talking today what has been done. it would have been nice to hear from him what is being done currently behind the scenes. >> reporter: george lods also needs some encouragement. he has a seafood wholesale business, and a huge freezer full of product. a lot of his customers started stocking up when the oil started pouring out of the sea floor
more than a month ago. but business has dropped off dramatically. >> in the beginning, everyone was rushing to scoop up all the product they could and put it in their freezers. now, business has fallen off the last couple of weeks. this is many people, i feel, some people i think the general public are backing off from eating this, saying, "wait, i dont want to eat this." >> reporter: he wants people's faith in seafood restored. and he thinks it's the oil companies that have to make things right by capping the well. >> federal government, i think they are doing what they are capable of doing. they probably could be doing a little bit more. b.p. and transoceon, that was their rig and that was their business. just like this is my business, and if something happened, i would be responsible for it.
the government did not drill the well; they cant stop it. that is not their expertise. >> reporter: he doesn't blame the president or the federal government for the explosion or the spill. >> i think it is his responsibility to see that b.p. do everything they can to clean up this mess. but the president did not make the oil well blow. the government dont really know what to do. the people in the oil field business can tell them what they need. the government aint in the shrimping business, either. they cant tell shrimpers how to go catch shrimp, so they cant tell b.p. how to clean up, because that is not the government's job. >> reporter: in his younger days, lods was a fisherman. he plans to volunteer to work on a shrimp boat for free, if he can find one still operating, because he wants to experience that one more time, in case the oil disaster prevents him from ever shrimping
again. >> brown: yesterday, a team of federal scientists released a report estimating that the size of the gulf spill had surpassed that of the 1989 exxon valdez disaster, making it the worst in u.s. history. but the full extent of the damage to the environment is only slowly becoming clearer, with many questions still unanswered. we get more on that now from david hollander, professor of chemical oceanography at the university of south florida's college of marine science. professor hollander, welcome to you. i would like you to start by explaining to us the discovery by your team of scientists of a plum of oil below the surface. now what does that mean, exactly? >> yes, first of all, i would like to clarify. the vision of having this dark crude oil plum in the subsurface is not at all what is actually going on. what we're seeing in the subsurface is actually something that can't be seen.
the hydrocarbons are actually dissolved in the water so the hydrocarbons which are actually in the water itself are invisible. in other words, they can't be seen. but they are easily detected by our sensors which can detect organic matter that is dissolved in seawater. we were able to see -- i was saying we were able to he so this dissolve organic matter in the water down to a depth of 1400 meters all the way up to the surface with a maximum below the surface at 400 meters. now this is quite extraordinary to have that kind of dissolved organic material in the water column, specifically hydrocarbons. a team of our researchers are 15 kilometers to the east of the well site the year before and they had no detectable dissolved hydrocarbons in the water. so this finding is significant. >> brown: now these dissolved hydrocarbons are
said to have an insidious effect on the ecosystem at the surface of the water. tell us what impact does it have? and what's down there being impacted? >> well, i think the context of insidious was meant that-- was put in the context that the surface, one effect of the spill, of course, is the surface response where you see the degraded oil. you see the oil shine and it's something that is trackable. something that's where you see it, you can clean it. this is insidious in the sense that it is invisible. it can't be seen with the naked high. you need instrumentation. you need analyses to be able to see this. so the impact of these dissolved hydrocarbons in the subsurface ocean is obviously something that we're tracking. it's influence depends very much on what is its concentration. so all of these sensors where we have detected,
which we have used to detect the hydrocarbons are also complemented by physical water samples which are being analyzed in the laboratory as we speak and we should have results to confirm these findings within two weeks. >> . >> brown: what do you worry about, give us a sense of the ecosystem that you are looking at and what you fear in terms of impact. >> i think our largest fear of impact is if, indeed, these disolved hydrocarbons are actually able to get to shallower depths at high concentrations, such that they are at 200 meters or a 100 meet ares and are actually able to impact the continental slope, impact the continental shelves and that is, in particular, where there is a lot of habitat for fisheries. and that is also a major consideration. when you have these dissolved hydrocarbons they can have a toxic effect
especially on small organisms like phyto plankton or fish harvey. one could be it being too toxic for them. the other effect is a little more subtle or the longer-term pons is that these dissolved hydrocarbons can be taken up in back ter whyia by phyto plankton and then they can be essentially through the few web they can cascade upward so that upper trophic levels eventually consume these hydrocarbons. >> brown: this isn't norma for oil spills, correct, for the oil to remain under the surface, to be invisible, to dissolve like that? are there theorys about what is going on in this case, is it because of the depth that it is all happening at? >> yeah, i think there are two current theories about why we would have such large subsurface hydrocarbons. of course most oil spills are two-dimensional spills where it is coming from the surface, a ship failure or a pipeline failure. but this where there is a
blowout at such great depth, there's a natural process called he mullsification where you can have a reaction at high pressures between the gas, the seawater and the petroleum which could actually create sort of an oil water hybrid which behaves not like oil but behaves more like water. and could essentially become neutrally buoyant in seawater. in other words, it could be residing stablely in the subsurface. that's one hypothesis. another hypothesis is that with the use of dispersants which essentially are a cocktail of organic solvent its and detergents, with the unprecedented use of the dispersants at great depths, and i should comment that these dispersants are used very effectively on surface oil for appropriate applications, it's exactly the right thing to use. but the application of these
dispersants at great depths, we do not know the physical chemical interactions that were actually going on with the dispersant relative to the oil. but one could envision that utilizing the organic solvents in the dispersants as well as the detergents, one could isolate hydrocarbons, low molecular weight hydrocarbons, small organic molecules but certainly a portion of the crude petroleum can be isolated, removed from the crude oil and actually the detergents can enable it to become dissolved in the ocean. >> brown: let me just ask you very briefly. how long before we know the extent of the damage here, briefly if you would? >> oh, gosh, i think it's a question of can we track this. can we continue to get a sense of what are-- what is the nature of this subsurface-- what are the nature of the sun surface hydrocarbons. what hydrocarbons exactly are we observing. what is their distribution. what is their a bundance.
it's really quite critical. but we feed to be able to go out there again and really make a concerted effort to begin to understand this under sea volume of the component of the petroleum spill. again, it's widely recognized that the volume of petroleum seen on the surface does not compare to the volume that is coming out of the broken well head. so there is a large portion that is still missing. >> brown: david hollander, the university of south florida, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> lehrer: still to come on the newshour: the california governor's race; "don't ask, don't tell"; and shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: gunmen killed 80 people today in lahore, pakistan. dozens more were wounded in the attacks on mosques during friday prayers. we have a report from paul davies of independent television news. >> reporter: pakistani
soldiers and police officers seek cover as they come under fire from gunmen who stormed a mosque showing their weapons on the worshipers and security forces . these members of a minority muslim sect managed to escape from the mosque but can only stand now and listen to the sound of their fellow worshipers being slaughtered. local television captured the desperate efforts of one man to escape. he drops from a fourth floor window. a gunman then appears and fires at him. before spotting the cameraman . >> this, the latest in a series of attacks on religious minorities in pakistan targeted the city of will hor -- lehore. the assault began soon after the start of friday prayers. survivors say three of the attackers detonated explosives strapped to their
bodies causing mass casualties. this was the moment the security forces signaled the brief but bloody fire fight was over. soldiers now in control. at least one of the attackers survived and was taken into custody. the pakistani government believes this was the work of the taliban. the amadi the target because of their blaef that there were other prophet its after mo mam-- mohammed. >> sreenivasan: across the border, the number of americans killed in afghanistan reached 1,000 when a soldier was killed in a roadside bombing. and afghan government forces battled militants again in eastern afghanistan. the fighting began last weekend when taliban forces tried to seize a key border district. in eastern india, a train wreck killed at least 71 people and injured hundreds more. the government claimed it was sabotage by maoist rebels. crews struggled to free people from the wreckage after a passenger train derailed and collided with an oncoming cargo train. it happened about 90 miles west of calcutta. some investigators said dynamite
was involved. >> the driver said as the train was passing by post 11 and 13 he heard the sound of an explosion and there was a vibration. after that all the coaches were derailed. immediate leigh after that, a passenger train was coming from another side that also felt its impact. >> sreenivasan: the area where the wreck happened is a known rebel stronghold. 189 nations agreed today on a series of steps to move toward abolishing nuclear arms worldwide. the consensus came on the final day of a month-long conference at the u.n. the u.s. and four other nuclear states committed to speed up cuts in their nuclear arsenals. and a conference will convene in 2012 on making the middle east a nuclear-free zone. the u.s. house has agreed to extend unemployment benefits for another six months. the measure passed today by a single vote. it was part of a larger bill that renews popular tax cuts. the senate will not consider the bill until after the memorial day recess.
that means thousands of people will lose their jobless benefits, at least on a temporary basis. wall street tumbled again today to finish its worst month in more than a year. stocks fell after spain's credit rating was downgraded. the dow jones industrial average lost 122 points to close at 10,136. the nasdaq fell 20 points to close at 2,257. for the week, the dow lost nearly 8%; the nasdaq fell more than 8%. one-time child star gary coleman died today at a hospital in provo, utah. he had suffered a brain hemorrhage. coleman gained fame on the hit tv comedy "diff'rent strokes". it began in 1978 and ran for eight seasons. in later years, he was in ill health from the kidney disease that stunted his growth. gary coleman was 42 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: now, the spending bonanza that is the california governor's race. over $90 million has been spent so far, and that's just on the republican primary. gwen ifill reports.
>> ifill: as they compete for the chance to be the next republican governor of california, meg whitman and steve poizner agree on at least two things. neither wants to be labeled a liberal. >> there is only one liberal republican on the stage tonight, and it is not me. >> ifill: and neither wants to be linked to the current and now deeply unpopular republican governor arnold schwarzenegger. >> you like arnold? you'll love meg whitman. >> ifill: both are digging deep into their own pockets to make the case that they alone can dig the golden state out of a 19 billion dollar hole. that is the size of the state's deficit. >> this isn't fun and games any more for california. we are in a really, really serious situation. and californians really understand it. they understand the unemployment rate. they understand the $20 billion budget deficit. >> people ask me all the time why on earth would you want to be governor when california is going through this meltdown. but it turns out this is the perfect time.
sometimes it takes a real meltdown in order to galvanize voters to support a reform agenda. >> ifill: poizner, 53, a former tech executive and currently the state insurance commissioner has poured $24 million into his campaign so far. >> i'm not a career politician for sure. but i'm not a rookie either. i have this proof-- proven set of skills to really fix very difficult problems. >> ifill: and whitman, also 53 years old, spent ten years as ceo of the on-line auction company ebay. at last count she spent about $70 million of her own money. >> i am not a professional politician as you know. i mean i am the definition of an outsider. i have been in business for 30 years. >> ifill: but outsider status has its limits. whitman has been endorsed by well-known national republicans like dick cheney and mitt romney. until recently, her nomination was considered a
sure thing. >> with goldman saks whitman invested heavily. >> in the blitz of advertising that has dominated this race. >> whitman's entire fortune is intertwine goldman sex. >> ifill: her reputation took the hit when poizner high lated her decald old member on the board of tarnished wall street giant goldman sachs. >> goldman executives donated over $100,000 to whitman. >> ifill: the high decibel aad aad war kick mood overdrive after the state of arizona launched its own crackdown on illegal immigration. poizner made it issue number one. >> who has the courage and values to stand up to illegal immigration. >> not liberal meg whitman, she supports obama's am nestny plan. >> ifill: whitman's whose poll numbers sliped-- slipped struck ba back. >> behind in the polls poizner decided to stop telling the truth. steve poizner, desperate, dishonest app way more liberal than he says he is. >> ifill: whitman
advertisers say she is bouncing back but neither side is taking anything for granted during the primary campaign's final two weeks. mark dicamello has spent 30 years following issues and candidates for california's field poll. >> national issues have really had an impact, i think, on the california governor's race. first the kind of focus on wall street and goldman sachs, that didn't play well. but then the arizona immigration law hit and that made it a big national issue and i think especially in republican primary here in california, that issue is probably the most potent issue in this campaign. >> there a big debate going on right now. >> ifill: poizner says he would revive proposition 187, an anti-immigration initiative overturned by the courts in 1998. telling his audiences the arizona law simply makes it illegal to be illegal. >> i'm going to be the truth teller in this campaign. as governor i'm going to stop the flow of illegal
immigrants into the state of california. (applause) >> let me just be clear about arizona. i totally support what they are doing. good for the people in the state of arizona. (applause) >> ifill: whitman has hesitated to embrace arizona's approach. >> i have tremendous empathy for the people of arizona. i understand that they rose up in many ways to, because of the abject failure of the federal government to secure the border. but i have a better plan for california. we have to secure the border. then we have got to hold employers accountable for hiring only documented workers. >> ifill: yet even in the heat of a bitter campaign there is some agreement. both republicans say they would deploy the california fat guard to patrol the state's board we are mexico. earlier this week president obama dispatched 1200 troops to the border to boost security. watching all this expensive republican wrangling from the sidelines is the democrat, one of them is likely to face. 72-year-old state attorney general jerry brown.
he was once mayor of oakland and he was once governor. in fact, in 1974 when he was elected, he was the state's youngest governor ever. if he were to win this fall, he would be its oldest. >> i voted for jerry the first time. >> ifill: brown's political longevity may also be a plus in a tate that voted overwhelmingly for president obama in 2008. >> most commentators out here when they are looking at this republican bash, they're calling it another murder suicide. and the winner is the person who is not in the fight. and in this case, it's jerry brown. >> ifill: but brown's previous stint as governor ended in 1982, long before many of the voters he's now targeting were born. to introduce himself to those younger voters he's targeting college campuses. >> the mist is starting to lift. i hope it-- the fog of the campaign begins to lift too. because when i watch those other candidates, they spent $100 million already.
what couldn't we have done with a hundred million on this campus. really, a bunch of stuff. you know, they buy those commercials and they point and that one's a lib really and that one's somebody else. it is completely intellectually embarrassing. (applause) >> ifill: for his older, more well-heeled audiences like the democrats at this hollywood fund-raiser last week, brown makes an old-timers' pitch. >> at this stage in my life i'm not trying to prove anything. i am, you know, i've seen it before. i know what it's luke. i once said, and i shouldn't say this, but i once said coming out of a regents meeting, being governor is a real pain in the ass. i said that. it was quoted in the paper. now you can't put that on public television. and i said it out of a certain amount of frustration. and now the frustration is going to be a lot greater. but i also have a lot more patience, a lot more understanding. and i think i'm coming back to the job with the kind of
perspective and kind of insight that certainly i didn't have when i first started. >> ifill: in some respects the choices are unusually clear for california voters this year. >> she pushes all the right buttons. workers comp, illegal immigration, tax break. >> i think to be opposed to the arizona law in a republican primary in california now puts you out of stride with the majority of the republican voters. >> we need immigration reform. we need something, what is happening right now is not working. so we need to make it better. that's my-- i guess that's my view. >> ifill: california ballots are already in the mail and more than a third of the state's voters are expected to make their decisions well before polls open june 8th. >> brown: next, to action in congress that could eliminate the ban on gays serving openly in the u.s. military. judy woodruff has our report.
>> woodruff: with the week-long memorial day recess looming, the house forged ahead today with a $700 billion defense budget bill. the bill passed this afternoon it included repeal of "don't ask, don't tell". that 1993 law prohibits the military asking recruits if they are gay or actively searching them out. but gays who openly declare their status or engage in homosexual conduct are subject to being discharged. the repeal was adopted last night as an amendment sponsored by pennsylvania democrat and army veteran patrick murphy. >> when i served in baghdad, my team did not care whether a fellow soldier was straight or gay. we cared if they could fire their m-4 assault rifle or run a convoy down ambush alley. could they do their job so that everybody in our unit would come home safely? with our military fighting two
wars, why on earth would we tell over 13,500 able-bodied americans that their services are not needed? >> woodruff: that is the estimated number of men and women who've been forced to leave the army, navy, air force and marines since "don't ask" was first put in place. under murphy's proposal, repeal would take effect only after the pentagon completes its study into how the change would be implemented. military leaders would also have to certify the change would not be disruptive. the defense department study was announced by secretary robert gates at a hearing in february, and is due by the first of december. >> the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it. we've received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly. >> woodruff: a week earlier, president obama called for repealing "don't ask" in his
state of the union address. mr. obama's position was quickly endorsed by the chair of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen. but this week, leaders of the four military branches wrote that they firmly oppose congressional action before the military finishes its review. they sent letters to two leading republicans, senator john mccain of arizona and congressman buck mckeon of california. >> we're dissing the troops, that's what we're doing. we're disrespecting them. >> woodruff: other house republicans joined mckeon in objecting to a vote on repeal, at least for now. >> the american people don't want the american military used as a vehicle to advance a liberal social agenda. give the men and women in uniform a say before bringing this change to the floor of this house. >> reporter: democrats countered the bill would not come into force until after the review was completed.
>> it will meet, absolutely, the requirement that the secretary of defense and others have put out, to get input from the armed forces. and it will not-- let me repeat, will not be changed until the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff certify that change. >> woodruff: supporters and opponents also argued over the wisdom of letting gays serve openly in the military. indiana republican steve buyer said no one is guaranteed the right to join the armed forces. >> it lies within the discretion of congress to establish qualifications for conditions for services in the armed forces. you can't be too tall, you can't be too short, you're overweight. i mean, we make these decisions. why? the purpose of the military is "we kill and break things." unit cohesion is pretty important! >> woodruff: but georgia democrat john lewis said the "don't ask" policy is unjust. >> just like the military helped end segregation based on race, we should have put an end to "don't ask, don't tell" long
ago. it is an affront to human dignity, and to the dignity and worth of every man and woman serving in our military. >> woodruff: the repeal amendment ultimately passed 234 to 194. five republicans supported it, while 26 democrats were opposed. the prospects for ending "don't ask" also advanced in the senate yesterday, where the armed services committee voted 16 to 12 in favor of repeal. but republicans on this side of the capitol have threatened to filibuster the defense funding bill when it reaches the floor, unless the repeal effort is removed. michigan democrat carl levin chairs the committee. he said today republicans would block the bill at their own risk. >> the fact that there's one provision in here that some people don't like, it seems to me, would not be sufficient
appeal for 40 senators... or 41 senators... to filibuster a defense bill. >> woodruff: meanwhile, advocacy groups on both sides of the debate sought to reinforce their positions. >> we have a lot of concerns about this. our military is engaged in two wars right now, and this is not a time to be using the military for social experimentation. >> the reality is today that there are over 66,000 service members who are gay and lesbian. and you know what? most of their colleagues know. they know who is gay, they know who is straight, and it doesn't make a difference. >> woodruff: the president welcomed the developments, calling them "important bipartisan steps toward repeal." secretary gates put out a video message to the troops asking them to participate in the review. >> so, please, let us know how to do this right.
i urge you to stay informed, but don't let the ongoing political debate distract you. >> woodruff: the full senate is expected to begin debate on the defense bill, and the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," next month. >> lehrer: and finally tonight, the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. >> brown: david, what do you think of the way the president has handled the oil spill crises? >> what struck me is how it reveals your underlying view of the role of government. we had a fellow on the show earlier in one of the reports who was in the shrimp business. and he was out there saying, you know, the government isn't in the shrimp businessment i don't expect them to be responsible for it and the government isn't in the oil business, i don't expect them to be responsible for it and that is sort of my view. i think people are saying president obama, president obama, do something, do something am but they are always very vague about exactly what he should do about the oil that is coming out still.
and so i don't expect him to be able to close that hole. that's b.p.'s job. it's not the government's job. the government is doing a reasonably good job i think of doing the cleaning and the response. so i give hem a b. you know, this is not the standard he applied to president bush during katrina but i think it is a realistic standard which we should expect from government. >> realistic standard from what we should expect from government. >> i don't know if it is realistic. in a time of crisis this is a time of national crisis, make no mistake about it. the president has not been free, of crises, he inherited several, many have come since that were anticipated. this is unexpected. and unplanned for in that sense. and it is real. >> lehrer: not like health-care reform. >> it has gripped people in this country. and when that happens, americans instinctively turn to the president for leadership. and in a time of crisis thee suspend one of the traditional checks and bams on the president.
they give a most unchecked power. and they look for a few things. they look for a sense of control. a sense of command and a sense of confidence. >> lehrer: what about empathy. >> well, empathy, i think empathy is different in this sense because president obama came to his preeminence politically in september of 2008 in the time of the financial crisis when he showed a sense of confidence and control and almost command as john mccain didn't, quite frankly, at that time in september 2008. and i think that probably sowed up the election right then and there. the events and his performance. now i think there is a certain passiveity that has come through that the president has not been assertive. the empathy thing, he has to stay within his game. he is to the by nature a demon strative person. it has served him very well. he is a controlled and cool and almost detached person publicly.
and that has served him well in his career. i think it might be artificial if he started showing tears or whatever at this point. but it would be nice to see him hug somebody. >> he could do better theatre maybe. he held a press conference yesterday. and he probably should have held that a couple of weeks ago. and he probably should have had made daily press conferences, as bobby jindal did or rudy giuliani did after 9/11. so that would have been nice, if he maybe explained more, or showed more theatre but that would not have closed the hole at the bottom of the ocean. and so you know, i'm not sure we should really be looking to the government in these circumstances . >> lehrer: replace the word "government" with "president" it is not the government, the opinion ree or the bureaucracy but the president, mark's point that like it or not, when things get rough, they're going to look to the president. is that inevitable? you are saying it's not? >> i'm not sure it was in the 19th century. i'm not sure that is the way
we naturally are. the guy in the shrimp business and mes have a sense. the government has certain jobs and part of the job is to regulate the oil industry so this thing doesn't happen as much as it could. part of the job is to help people who are hurting, who are in those industries, who are in those towns, who are in the restaurants. that's clearly a part of the government's job. and the government's job is to oversee b.p. to close the hole. but b.p. has an incredible incentive to close that hole. there is nothing, they have no incentive to let it keep open. so i'm not sure i personally blame president obama because that hole is still open. >> lehrer: what is your analysis, mark, of the way this story has gripped the american people now. it is everywhere. everybody is watching that plum. >> well. >> lehrer: it is not on-line newshour, somewhere else. >> they are going to ryu the day that the democrats are, that they insisted that b.p. make available that camera. because-- . >> lehrer: why? >> because every time people turn on television they are reminded that it's still continuing. has it work-- that it hasn't
worked. that washington isn't working. i disagree with david on this. people do look to the president. and i would say the difference in the 19th century is that james buchanan faced with seven states ceding from the union and abraham lincoln, his successor. i mean he-- he was a forceful leader, took the country into war. yes, they saved the union and i think that's-- people who expect action. it isn't a question whether the president goes in himself and plugs it. nobody is talking about that. or sending some 82nd airborne in to do it. but when there are toys that come into the country with lead on them and children get sick, there is a sense of there is a responsibility for that. somebody is supposed to be protecting and defending that. the ultimate responsibility as the president himself said yesterday is with him. people will accept blunder its and temperizing and mistakes if, in fact, it is
resolved successfully. but jim, this has taken all the oxygen out of the room. there is no other debate about jobs, jobs, jobs or the economy. this is it. this is a pass-fail test for the president. not for the congress. not for the corporation. >> lehrer: how do you explain that, david, that there is this feeling now that people are saying my goodness, it's the old moon shot-- my god we can send people to the moon but we can't shut this hole in the bottom of the ocean? >> well some things are really, really hard. one of the things that is happening is that we now face our-- base our lives and our civilization on incredibly complicated systems. the financial market is incredibly complicated. drilling holes miles down in the ocean, incredibly complicated systems. and we charge people to run these systems when they really can't evaluate the risks very well. they are so complicated they are beyond comprehension. so if you look at the decisions that were actually made on the platform when the hour is up they had some tests which they didn't know whether they were right or not. should they recirculate the mud, should they cement the hole.
did they do that in the right way. you had people making decisions based on certain risk assessments which were completely wrong. and we have seen this before. we saw it in the financial markets. we saw it in the challenger explosion. people were based on incredibly complicated technical systems that we do not understand. and there these circumstances we are often vastly overconfident about how much we can control and people take risks and you get to this. >> lehrer: let's go back to the california governor's race. why, it's a graveyard for politicians. why do people want to spend some of money to be governor of california snoo. >> well, i mean it is a great job. i mean-- . >> lehrer: great job, why. >> been a springboard for national prominence and leadership. i mean ronald reagan came from sacramento. jerry brown was a national figure. earl warren, chief justice of the supreme court. so it is, richard nixon ran for governor. there is something about
sacramento and that. >> lehrer: schwarzenegger, pete wilson, gray davis, recent folks who have had that job haven't come out well. >> no, no t is a tough, tough job. don't get me wrong. when they are saying at each other that both whitman and poizner saying that six years ago things were better before arnold-- arnold, they are distancing themselves from their own republican governor. six years ago gray davis was democrat was governor and he was impeached. so i mean that tells you something about the political in the state. $19 billion deficit it is remarkable that they're spending so deeply. >> if i can take a whack at it why would you want to be governor in a $19 billion deficit testimony going to be miserable. part of the reason i think you want to do is it because you like to be the center of attention t is ego grat trying but the real reason, this is something we don't talk about enough s that you really think you can help the country or help the state. i was on a plane to new york a couple weeks ago. and it was the last shuttle on a thursday to new york.
we were late and landed at midnight there were probably 8 or 10 members of congress on that plane all going back to their districts on new york. i'm getting off the plane at laguardia, it is midnight, 12:30, and i'm thinking they do this every week. you don't do that unless you-- dow it for some ego but you really don't do it unless you think you are helping the country. because it's just not that glamorous. it's not that easy. we got a guy in new jersey, governor christie who is cutting budgets, that's in fun. but i think above all ego, there is some real service ethic there. >> i agree with david in most cases. that the spending $70 million which meg whitman has now done this week, and to discuss it's one thing to run and sayogue, this is what is important. this is what i really want to do for the children of our state. but when you are talking about who's more against immigration, and that's what shall did -- that debate has devolved to in california. and it's ugly-- ugly. it is not only that, it is going to be
counterproductive for them because whoever wins that is going to have alienated 35% of the electorate of the state by so doing. >> a woman in the house once said to me, you don't win, you don't serve. that is the character challenge. you got to win to serve. they do what you have to do. >> you have to deserve to win too. >> lehrer: a few seconds left. you weren't surprised on the house vote by don't ask don't tell, do you. >> no, it is a remarkable store he where the country has come in a relatively short period of time. i just hope the review the pentagon does is a serious review. because that is an open question to me of what the long-term affects are. >> a majority of the country opposed gays serving in the military 17 years ago. >> lehrer: 17 years ago. >> 17 years ago in 1993. today we're talking over by 3 to 1 margin. there was some democratic self-interest in this vote, let's be very can dad-- can date about it. more than 80% of women favor gays being accepted openly. 80% of the people under the
age of 30, both target group force democrats. and there is a fear the democrat kos lose seats in november and not have the numbers necessary to pass it. i think it does sort of short circuit the military chiefs. i really do. i think it preordains the results somewhat but it is a sea change of a more tolerant nation. >> lehrer: david, mark. thank you both. >> thank you. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: president obama surveyed oil damage along the louisiana coast as b.p. labored again to plug a deep-sea well; gunmen killed 80 people at two mosques in lahore, pakistan; and wall street tumbled again to finish its worst month in more than a year. the dow jones industrial average lost 122 points. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari.
we have more information on the gulf, including a story that the oil spill may be significantly larger than the preliminary estimates released thursday by a federal panel. you can follow our live video feed of the efforts to control the spill throughout the weekend. plus on our news log a rundown, a conversation with technology plus, on "the rundown," a conversation with technologist guru tim o'reilly about using the internet to make government more transparent, and more on facebook's privacy settings. jeffrey brown talks to filmmaker debra granik, whose film "winter's bone" won the grand jury prize at sundance this year. and looking ahead, on monday, we'll have the first in a series of reports produced from china by the newshour's global health unit. for more on that, here's ray suarez. >> suarez: this is china's tobacco country. maybe the north carolina or kentucky or virginia of china. and we're here to take a look at an interesting paradox. how can the chinese government both support efforts to stop people from smoking cigarettes an be the
primary seller of tobacco in china >> sreenivasan: that's ray suarez reporting from china. his series begins monday on air and online. and you can keep in touch with the newshour tonight and all weekend long by visiting our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice memorial day weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: